Can a sister citizen submit a letter of support?

In my column This week's Consulta Migratoria® answers a question from a reader who wishes to return to the United States with the help of his U.S. citizen children and sisters.

Each immigration case is different. Please consult with an immigration attorney for personalized legal advice before beginning any proceedings.

This is the column:

I am Salvadoran and lived illegally in the United States until 2001. I returned to El Salvador where I currently live with my second wife and minor children.

I have two U.S. citizen children ages 27 and 24 from my first marriage. My life is in danger in El Salvador and I wish to return to the U.S. with my wife and children as soon as possible. Can my American children petition for us? They do not have a stable job and earn little. Can my citizen sisters serve as guarantors? -Pablo B.

Paul, your U.S. citizen children can file a family petition on behalf of you and your children. Also, they may be able to petition for your spouse if you were married before your U.S. citizen children turned 18.

Your children will have to file family petitions for each of you and prove your relationship to each other and evidence of your children's citizenship, among other requirements.

If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the family petitions, your immigration files will be sent to the Department of State's National Visa Center for further processing. The National Visa Center will ask for several documents, including letters of support (affidavit of support), showing that your children have the income or assets necessary to support you and your immediate family.

Your citizen sisters may also be able to submit support letters along with your children to support their immigrant visa applications. Your children and sisters will need to submit financial information, such as federal tax returns and bank statements showing that they can support you as well as their own families.

Processing times

Immigrant visas are available immediately for you and your wife. This means that you could obtain your permanent residency within approximately one year. However, there is a wait of approximately 13 years for Salvadorans who are siblings of U.S. citizens and your minor children would not be able to immigrate with you.

I recommend that when you become a permanent resident you also file family petitions on behalf of your minor children. Currently, you have to wait approximately two years for an immigrant visa to become available for Salvadorans who are unmarried children under the age of 21 of permanent residents.

You should consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative who is licensed in the United States to give you immigration legal advice before you begin any immigration proceedings. They will evaluate your immigration history to determine if you have done anything in your past that would prevent you from returning to the United States.